Most aware firearm owners will know about the Cape High Court compensation judgement 31st August.
The case was fought by JASA (Justice Alliance of SA). JASA is a small group of lawyers who fight constitutional cases because they believe that the survival of constitutional democracy requires them to be fought. JASA prepared and fought this action with outstanding competence, as was obvious in the result. Although I have not spent much time in courts I am aware of how tortuously slow it can be. Judge Traverso disposed of JASA's case in an incredible fifteen minutes. And in such a manner as to leave no doubt as to the unconstitutional and unlawful manner in which the state and SAPS have behaved for the last five years.
It took nearly a year to get to court. At the very end the State had not tabled a defense, but from the beginning employed delaying tactics hoping that JASA would run out of money. On the morning of the hearing, the state's advocate, having conceded everything, was forced into court because the minister refused to concede despite facing an incontestable case. And once in court he attempted to get an adjournment to get further affidavits regarding the present minister's involvement. He argued that the present minister was not responsible because he was not the minister at the time. Judge Traverso dismissed it with contempt, but it illustrates the sort of underhand tactics the state employs.
It must be one of the most conclusive, no contest decisions in the history of the courts in South Africa, and has established that that aspect of the FCA is unconstitutional.
GOSA's role is not widely known. But before explain it, some brief background about GOSA is in order. GOSA was started in 2004 by a small group in Cape Town that was disillusioned by the lack of resistance to the FCA and in particular by SAGA's attitude that the FCA would never be scrapped and that we must make the best of it. I had been a SAGA officer in the Western Cape when the FCB went through parliament in 1999-2000. While all firearm groups agree on the unjust nature of the FCA, that fundamental policy difference made it untenable to remain in SAGA.
From the beginning GOSA's objective was to figure out what could be done to undermine the FCA. It has been obvious for years that prodding firearm owners into action has been a huge waste of energy, and that the FCA must therefore be attacked from another direction. It is laced with unconstitutional provisions that should be easy to attack in Constitutional Court, but that was thought by everyone to be an impossibly expensive proposition. I personally tried to secure pledges to get enough money together a few years ago. R30K was all I got. So a concourt action was considered out of reach.
Until two years ago when JASA explained to us how to present a case at less cost than we had previously thought. We presented a history of the FCA plus our opinion of the best parts to attack. By "best" I do not necessarily mean the most important to us, but rather those which offered the best chance of success. JASA examined our suggestions, identified the best item, and signified its willingness to go ahead because it considered the unconstitutional nature of the FCA worthy of its attention.
After much discussion and preparation our case was tabled on the court roll ten months ago and the rest, as they say, is history. It was possible only because of the determined effort by GOSA to find a way of striking a blow against the FCA. This success will not derail the FCA on its own, but it is important because it has proved that the FCA can be successfully attacked on constitutional grounds. It prepares the way for further attacks and the eventual destruction of the FCA.
Throughout this two year effort, all firearm organisations were approached for financial support. All declined, so it was funded by a handful of individuals. SAGA declined to associate with us. It is therefore fair to say that SAGA and all the associations accept the FCA while GOSA is on the road to getting it scrapped.
Firearm owners need to decide what they want. We are well on the road to disarmament. Those who disbelieve that should look at how few licences have been issued since 2004. SAPS knew that the most resistance would be from existing licence holders, so the tactic is to renew most existing licences but very few new ones. As most of my fellow club members are fifty plus, age will cull out 80% of firearm owners in the next twenty years.
As Thomas Eastes has so concisely put it : No Guns = No Defence, No Sport, No Hunting, No Collecting. Those rights are secure only if the right to own firearms is secure, and if that is secure the other things follow automatically.
Therefore, GOSA's objective is to force the scrapping of the FCA and replace it with a law that serves all firearm owners, not just the 4% who are members of associations that have sought to protect their members' interests at the expense of the other 96%. But that will need support. If GOSA's achievement is not enough to earn that support, what will be enough ?
GOSA Executive Member